The cost of living has put a financial strain on many of us in the last few years. From energy prices to food bills, your expenses may have gone up – making it harder to save for retirement or do the things you enjoy in the present.
If you’re struggling with bills or need a little guidance with managing your money and pension, here’s a reminder of where you could get support. As everyone’s circumstances are different, some of these resources may be more relevant to you than others.
1. Help with your energy bills
The price cap that limits the cost per unit of energy has gone down in 2023 but is still much higher than in 2020 and 2021.
If you’re worried about paying your energy bills or want to see if there’s a better deal available, contact your energy supplier in the first instance. There may be a cheaper tariff you can switch to, and/or in some cases financial support or repayment plans to make things more manageable.
Outside of your supplier, here are some other places you can turn to.
Help for Households government campaign
The Government’s Energy Bill Support Scheme ended in March 2023, but there’s still cost of living payments available until Spring 2024 if you claim certain benefits or tax credits. This should be paid to you automatically in the same way you usually get your benefits or tax credits. To find out more about who qualifies, check out the Government webpage cost of living payments 2023 to 2024.
If your home has a pre-payment meter and you’re worried about being able to top it up, the Fuelbank Foundation may be able to assist you. They provide emergency funding to households identified as being in a fuel crisis. On their website, you’ll also find more tips and guidance including their 3 big things that make a difference.
Energy Saving Trust
The Energy Saving Trust is an independent profit for purpose organisation working to address the climate emergency. They run various campaigns to help people save money on their energy bills. Plus, try their warm home hacks to heat up your home on a budget. There’s specific information based on which region in the UK and Northern Ireland you live too.
Citizens Advice is a national charity that offers confidential advice. Their dedicated energy supply webpage features lots of detailed resources, for example if you’re struggling to pay your bills or if you’re having problems with them.
2. Managing your food costs
Inflation and the conflict in Ukraine have been factors in the rising price of food. In August 2023, the annual inflation rate for food and non-alcoholic beverages was at 13.6%.1 However, it’s worth noting that month by month, the increase has slowed significantly. There was only a 0.3% increase between July and August 2023.1
You might be able to save money on your food bills by making a few small changes, like trying our sustainable food tips. Here are some other sources you may find useful.
Supermarket price comparisons with Which?
Every month, Which? do a price comparison analysis to find out what the cheapest supermarket in the UK is.
Research by Which? found that shopping at a convenience store (for example a Tesco express or Sainsbury’s local) can be up to 10% more expensive than shopping at a regular store of the same brand.2 For some people, it’s a no-brainer to go to the regular supermarket. However, if you live far away from a big store, consider if it’s worth the extra time, effort and cost of travelling further. You might find that it doesn’t make much of a difference.
Love Food Hate Waste
Love Food Hate Waste is a charity committed to reducing food waste and making the most of your food at home. Their How do I? guides give insight into how you can make the most of, and get the greatest value out of the food you buy – saving you time, money and waste.
Grab a deal with Too Good To Go
Too Good To Go is an app where you can buy bags of food from local shops and restaurants that would have otherwise gone to landfill – for a third of the original price. The only catch is you don’t know what food you’ll receive, but you’ll know the shop you’re buying from.
Local food banks
For those most in need, you may be able to claim vouchers to use at your local food bank. Access to a food bank requires a referral, usually from a care professional such as ahealth visitor, a social worker or school staff. With a voucher you can collect a parcel of nutritious, non-perishable food to last at least three days.
The Trussell Trust is a well-known organisation with food banks across the UK. You can find your nearest location on their Find a food bank page, along with other guidance.